July 14, 1983

I am delighted by today's action by the House of Representatives on the trade and tax provisions of the Caribbean Basin Initiative. Although it took longer than I had hoped to secure passage, the vote today is a giant step forward. I congratulate the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski, and Members of the House for the bipartisan cooperation they demonstrated in working for the stability and progress of some of our closest neighbors.

The security and well-being of the people of the Caribbean are very much in the interest of the United States. The region, in reality, represents the third border of our country, and for far too long it has not been given the attention it deserves. Today's vote by the House is a signal to all concerned that we recognize the vital importance of the Caribbean and are willing to meet our responsibilities.

There have been a number of changes in the legislation since its inception, but the heart of the proposal remains intact. Through tax and trade incentives the energy and creativity of the private sector will be put to work on the economic challenges that confront our friends and neighbors in the Caribbean. The Caribbean Basin Initiative will serve as a catalyst for progress and will offer broad new opportunities to the people of the region.

I hope the Congress will move promptly through the remaining legislative steps toward enactment of this vital piece of legislation.